Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009


Harvest Table

I found this table in a dark corner of my Grandma’s basement.  It was covered in cobwebs and my Mom remarked that it was something we might buy at the flea market.  I didn’t give it much thought because it looked a bit rough and really, what use did I have for another table?  A few days later we had our first frost warning and I got to thinking about my houseplant.  I usually put them in the bay window and then promptly forget about them.  They wilt and yellow, lose leaves, and otherwise look very sad until Spring when I kick them out of the house and put them on the deck railing in the back.  They’ll grow like gangbusters and look all happy and green before the cycle starts all over again.  Try as I might with my mindless neglect of them I just can’t kill them.

Or, rather I couldn’t until this year when I lost one due to frost.  I kicked them out earlier than usual because of the warm spring which mean quite a bit of schlepping in and out of the house.  I think I gave up at some point with the schlepping and one of them was pretty hard hit so I dumped it, rather unceremoniously, in the compost bin. The remaining plant recovered slightly, but then the drought hit and while I did water several bushes outside I tended to forget about the plant on the deck railing and it, again looked pitiful.

At this point in my story I’m thinking I should be thankful that there is not a Humane Society for Houseplants because I suspect they’d come and liberate the plant from my care.  Promise you won’t turn me in, ok?

I did at one point remember that the plant needed water, although that was probably because my husband had to move it and found the pot was a bit on the light side.  Typically when this happens I put the pot in the tub and turn on the tap until the water pours out the bottom.  Hmmm, yeah, you won’t turn me in to the plant welfare people, right?

I put it back out on the deck railing and then we got rain.  Lots of rain and the plant bounced back better than ever.  Isn’t she pretty?

I couldn’t very well bring her back inside to the bay window.  Clearly, though the window gets the most sunlight in the house (and you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find sunlight in this house) it’s not a place that my plant is happy.  But where to put her?  My Mom has gently suggested that perhaps I bring the plant over to her house because she’s the plant whisperer and all plants thrive at her house, but I can’t do that.  I started this plant from trimmings from an office plant back before I had kids.  I have dutifully cut off other parts of the plant, rooted them, and then replanted them.  Sure, I might largely neglect it, but I’ve got time and effort into this plant.

Then I remembered the table in the neglected corner of my Grandma’s basement.  Neglected table?  Neglected plant?  It’s a match made in home decorator’s paradise.

…Or something like that.

Sure, it needs a coat of something to protect the wood, the bolts on the bottom connecting the table top need to be tightened, the legs need some glue, and the entire thing is splashed with paints of unknown origin, but it’s a table.  It would have probably been taken to St. Vinnny’s or thrown out so why not come to my house and hold my plant?  As for the plant splashes, my husband has been directed, repeatedly, that when he gets around to shoring up my table and applying the finish, he not touch those paint splatters.  My Dad will probably think I’m crazy for hiding what is really nice wood behind them, but I think they’re what makes the table what it is.  Rustic.

At first the table just held the plant and it seemed right to me.  Then, I was decorating for fall (and our Autumn Equinox family dinner) and I had all these things to use, but no room on the mantle.  I added in a few paper pieced mini-quilts and then it was perfect.  Neither the table, nor the plant, are neglected.  They’re the focal point of the harvest season and the reminder that nothing is beyond saving.


Letting Go

Saying a final farewell to the garden,
thanking Demeter, Mother Earth, Father Sun,
Green Man, the fairy folk who preside over the lighter half of the year,
and all of the ways that humans have personified the forces at work in our world
to bring about the growing things that surround us.

Letting go of one season as we slide into the next.
Seasons of life, circle of life, wheel of the year.
Thank you for reminding me to be mindful of this present moment.

Big Things

We’re officially taking a canning holiday today. I have what will likely be the last of the tomatoes to make into sauce (375 degrees F in the oven until most of the liquid has evaporated – my new favorite method) as well as some eggplants, cucumbers, and beets to process in some way. Oh, and did I mention a unknown quantity of free concord grapes to arrive at an unknown time this weekend which will likely need immediate processing into jelly?

I have shuffled the children outside to enjoy the nice day and set to work. After dragging out my tools and the food processor I notice that the baby has appeared and is sitting patiently at the table. She always does this when it looks as if I might be making food for her to eat. Never mind the fact that they ate me out of house and Cheerios this morning.

My son soon picked up on whatever unspoken energy current that the baby picked up on, albeit just a few moments later.


“Yes, dear?”

“Are you making lunch?”

“Not yet, I have to finish what I’m doing here first.”

“Well, I’m placing my order now.”


“Are we going to have sandwiches?”


“I want ham and cheese on bread with mayo, lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers.”

“You want the cucumbers and peppers on your sandwich? Like between the bread?”

“Yes, can we eat our lunch outside?”

This probably doesn’t seem all that groundbreaking to you, but my son from the moment he first tasted solid food until this summer regarded vegetables suspiciously. He was never in for more than a bite or two and usually only when asked to take a “no thank you” taste. THIS child wanted vegetables, not on his plate with some sort of dip, but right on his sandwich…and he ate it….all of it.

Big things today I tell you.

The slow garden year

We’ve harvested quite a few greens so far, but it’s all been rather slow going. I’m not weighing our harvests this year as it’s one step I could do without. I’m also not blanching the peas this year before freezing. Nope. Not going to do it. I figure this way I can get them in the freezer and put up faster. It’ll be an experiment.

Odd to be doing this in July, though.


Finally Made it Out to the Garden

As My Love’s days off have rotated away from the weekends we’ve been downshifting quite a bit when it comes to our protest participation. If there’s one scheduled locally you can bet that we’re there – well, the kids and I are anyway. That does not mean that our past protest participation didn’t alter our habits. On Tuesday we were in Madison all day (we voted by absentee ballot the day before) for classes at the Nature Center. The Brown Eyed Girl had class in the morning while the Funny Man had one in the afternoon. Now…about lunch.

In the past we would have stopped at Chipotle.  Some of us would have had the more traditional salad or burrito.  One person in particular would have just eaten guacamole.  This time, though, we stopped at our new favorite pizza place.  Copious amounts of pizza were eaten by some of the smallest members of the family.  Very tasty indeed.

This morning after much poking, prodding, and a bit of begging I found myself in the car and on the way to the garden.  I’ve given up on gardening, you see.  After the last few years I’ve come to the realization that I hate it.  It’s by far my least favorite thing to do.  I think I’d rather clean the toilet than garden which My Love can reassure you is a fair comparison given that cleaning the bathroom is his responsibility.  To be fair, I let my gardening partners know of this change of heart in advance.   My Love is now in charge of everything gardening related including when things need to be planted.  My only request was that the plantings be spread out a bit so as to make the processing (and eating) of the garden’s bounty just a tad bit easier.

The kids were super excited about going to the garden.  Time to head outside?  What’s not to love?  There was only the smallest sense of disappointment that their beloved Nana and Buppa were not there.  We visited briefly with their cats, though, which seemed to help.

Like the outfit?  She dresses herself.  The boots are a requirement for Spring outdoor play.  We got them at a local store and I suspect they’d make the perfect work boots for someone who lives on a farm.  We’re solidly in the suburban camp, but these boots are still the perfect fit for my intrepid outdoor children.  As for the rest of it?  This is the Brown Eyed Girl’s standard uniform.  Some sort of shirt, jeans, and skirt – the layers are key.  She has a unique sense of self.

As for this one?  Well, he has a unique sense of self as well.  His fashion choices have been adjusted ever so slightly.  I’m happy to report that after all these years he looks every bit the adult that he is and most definitely no longer a man-child.  Someone please remind me of this when Funny Man is older.  Please, please, please let me be an above-average mother-in-law.

My Love was very much into the gardening today.  He’s never more at home than when he’s digging in the dirt – which should say quite a bit about where our children get it from.

It’s been a long winter and regardless of my thoughts on gardening…I’m looking forward to Summer.


Medicinal Herb Garden Harvest

This past weekend I harvested a much anticipated item from my medicinal herb garden.  I planted Marshmallow and Elecampane last year.  They overwintered well before coming up again this year and growing something close to six feet tall.  It was amazing to see just how tall they got.  I suspect I was probably a bit late on harvesting them since all of the plants had already set the buds where new growth would appear next year.  I’m going to try replanting come spring what remains and see if I can get plants from the leftover root crowns.

I ended up with 2lbs 8oz of Elecampane root (from five plants) and 1lb 4oz of Marshmallow root (from three plants).  I’ve processed through most of it at this point.  I just need to clean and dry what I have left of the Elecampane root to add to my herb cupboard along with the glycerites and tinctures of both Marshmallow and Elecampane.  Not bad for a half of a days worth of work!

Don’t forget to stop by Daphne’s Dandelions for more Harvest Monday!

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Garden Harvest Update (as of 10/4/10)

Garden Harvest Update

Lettuce 5lbs
Carrots 22lbs 3oz
Broccoli 1lb 4oz
Chinese Cabbage 4oz
Peas 7lbs 6oz
Green Beans 32lbs 5oz
Spinach/Swiss Chard/Beet Greens 15lb 8oz
Onions 35lb 7oz (this figure is probably short a few)
Zucchini 5lbs 11oz (this is short a few ounces)
Cucumbers 49lb 3oz
Eggplant 9lb 13oz
Beets 11lb 11oz
Tomatoes 132lb 15oz
Green Tomatoes 40lbs 1oz
Potatoes 5lbs 6oz
Tomatillos 57lbs 10oz
Hot Peppers 2lb 3oz
Sweet Peppers 4lb 5oz
Pie Pumpkin 6lbs 12oz
Corn 2lb 10oz
Ground Cherries 1lb 7oz
Wonderberries 14oz
Popcorn 2lbs 12oz
Kale 4oz
Melon 1lb 11oz
Cabbage 5lbs 8oz

Total: 460 lbs  1 oz
Last Year’s End of the Year Total

Last year’s harvest tally from around this time of year can be found here.  This update marks the beginning of the end.  Saturday evenings forecast for frost had us scurrying to get in as much as we could from what was left in the garden.  I got up early Saturday morning, took J with me, and headed out to the garden.  The wind was sharp, the sun hidden behind the clouds, and I quickly regretted my grand idea.  My husband and my daughters were at home where it was delightfully warm.  As for my son?  His enthusiasm quickly waned as he realized just how cold it was.  Going out to the garden no longer seemed to hold the same siren song as it once did.  Of course, the fact that I wouldn’t let him get out the wagons probably had something to do with it.  It wasn’t too long into our visit that he asked to go inside by my parents and but a few brief minutes until my father asked if he wanted to come in.

The wind has a way of draining your ambitions and interest, but I was determined to get as much as I could.  I have a few bunches of herbs hanging from the drying rack in my kitchen and what seems like a million little tasks in order to finish putting things up.  I will miss the warm weather – not the humidity – but I’m glad that the harvest is all but over.  There will still be more to come – carrots and potatoes for sure.  I expect another 30 lbs or so, but hope for another 40.  It’d be grand to break the 500 lb mark this year.

Want to read more? Stop by Daphne’s Dandelions!